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Wednesday, 16 March 2011


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Good things those guys got there before that wall fell down. ch

I don't get it.

I mean, I get that they are surreal, fascinating and of interest, I just can't quite understand why these images turn out the way they do. Is it because the GPS maps the terrain only and not the bridge?


There's another thing I don't get, mostly about the Google Street View pictures, since the melted bridges could be considered "art".

#1-Google takes a lot of dull pictures (cool pictures of course, because you can "travel" throuh the streets).
#2-Someone goes into their web site, takes a few screen captures and uploads them to his own website. Plus, he takes credit for them.

I don't get it, How's that related to real photography at all??
I'm sorry, maybe it's just me, but I don't get it....

It has nothing to do with taking credit. He's not saying it's his work. It's just some interesting anomalies from Google Earth, that's all.


I too would love to know how they're created. I sure accept that they are photography, subspecies digital, but I'd love to know what their subsubspecies is. Artifacts created by connecting different views by some unintentionally creative algorithm? Jokes from out of the bowels of Google? Momentary spacetime warps visible only from space?

The satellite photos Google uses have a particular resolution; that is, there is photo information (color, brightness) at specific grids in X and Y (or Lat and Long). The underlying terrain-elevation model they're using (there are many sources) has much coarser resolution. They project the image info onto the underlying elevation info, but the bridges in these examples fall between the terrain-elevation samples.

Think of it like a large, flexible, photographic print being draped over a terrain model that's a grid of little posts, each representing the elevation at that point. Your print falls into a canyon, because the posts in the canyon are shorter than the posts representing the high ground on either side. Unless there are posts right at the position of the bridge for it to "land" on, the print will sag into the canyon of shorter posts, and the image of the bridge will appear as in Valla's collection of photos.
As for the so-called street-view shots that Rafman collects -- I don't spend all day perusing street view on Google, but in my experience I've NEVER seen street-view photos like the majority of examples on that link. The camera's point of view varies too much, the quality (resolution) of many of them is way too high, and there are other things that just don't ring true. My initial reaction is that they're complete fakes. Maybe Rafman should take credit for them.

Yes, thanks for that explanation...I guess I was sorta on to the idea.

Sam G: Thanks! Those pictures collected by Jon Rafman were fascinating.

Mike: you have always advocated for each city to have a dedicated photographer whose job it was to go around photographing the people and buildings in the city, the daily life, and to record it for posterity. This collection makes it pretty clear that Google may be getting close to achieving that goal for a whole host or cities (though obviously limited to what is visible from the street). An absolutely fascinating portrait of life at the start of the 21st century...


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